Football can be very unfair, referees doubly so. Mike Halsey and his assistants got two massive decisions wrong in Newcastle’s favour.
Halsey was the only one in the entire stadium who thought Taylor’s foul on O’Hara a yard inside the box deserved a free kick not a penalty. To pretend the foul could have been outside was spineless. Then to disallow Doyle’s last gasp equaliser because the ball had apparently already gone out of play was ridiculous. I’ll put this one down to the *probably* (unproven – he may just have been stupid and lazy) linesman.
Let’s be clear before I say any more: Wolves deserved a point – or more – from this game , and would have got it but for the incompetence of the match officials. Let’s hope not to see them near our team until they’ve learned the basics.
However, while I’m happy to give Newcastle some credit (kind of me, I think), especially Gutierrez for the second – that we found ourselves 2-0 down was very much our own fault. Johnson lost his marker for the first; for the second O’Hara, and then – critically – Henry, mispassed the ball in midfield to the opposition. Gutierrez, picked it up with plenty to do, but easily passed Johnson and scored a good goal.
So, lazy passing and poor defending cost us as much as poor refereeing. Our attack – in patches, and especially after substitutions – was better than in last few games, but not yet good enough. From 25 shots, 12 on target, we managed 2 goals (I choose to allow the second). Again, credit to Newcastle for this, with keeper Krul pulling off some excellent saves, but a couple of times he should have been given no chance.
So, finally onto team selection, certainly second the most contentious issue around the ground (after refereeing, of course). One change from the Liverpool lineup saw Fletcher in for Edwards, and although they started brightly the team soon lapsed into apathy, losing key battles and making silly mistakes in midfield. This was no excuse for Henry to be jeered off the pitch (for my money he’d mainly put in a decent defensive display and, the even more careless O’Hara should have gone), but there’s no doubting that the injection of Guedioura and Hammil brought some much needed energy and creativity to the attack. They’re not perfect and misplaced a couple of crosses – no more than, say, Jarvis had, though – but neither were afraid of trying something different and running at the defence, and even stirred O’Hara into showing some of the attacking flair he seems to have been hiding too much this season.
The referee and the Toon keeper may have kept the points from us, but our attacking edge needs some sharpening. Guedioura for O’Hara, and Hammil for Hunt next game please.
In my dreams…